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Designing innovative therapies

Published on 24 November 2017

Finding a new treatment consists in developing a new therapeutic agent or mode of administration, but also the identification of a new therapeutic target. Next, the efficacy and safety of the new therapy must be evaluated. These are all stages in which researchers from the François Jacob Institute of Biology at the CEA (Fontenay-aux-Roses) are involved. More specifically, the researchers set up new gene, molecular or cell therapy strategies.

To develop these new therapies, scientists from the Institute’s MIRCen and STI departments combine expertise from a variety of fields: molecular biology, biochemistry, virology, physiology, motor and cognitive behavior, neurology, neurosurgery, physics, mathematics and imaging. As specialists in neurodegenerative diseases (including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and multiple sclerosis) and blood diseases (beta thalassemia, sickle-cell anemia, etc.), they bring their knowledge and skills to the academic, industrial and medical worlds.

The teams at Fontenay-aux-Roses have especially been involved in several “premieres” in gene therapy, notably for the treatment of beta thalassemia and Parkinson’s disease.

In order to treat a patient with Parkinson’s disease using gene therapy, a vector must be injected into the brain allowing certain cells to produce their very own drug. This protocol was developed with the teams of Fontenay-aux-Roses before being implemented at the Hôpital Henri-Mondor (Créteil). ©CEA


Two national infrastructures for imaging and translational research

At Fontenay-aux-Roses, the translational research center MIRCen (CEA-Inserm) relies on imaging to design and validate new therapies. MIRCen coordinates the “Infrastructure Nationale en Biologie et Santé” (National Infrastructure in Biology and Health) translational research for biotherapies in neuroscience, NeurATRIS, which has been selected by the Investissements d’Avenir program. This infrastructure makes it possible to strengthen fundamental research in the neurosciences with a better understanding of the nervous system’s mechanisms, and will enable clinical development based on biotherapies.
In close collaboration with two services from the Frédéric Joliot Institute of Life Sciences (CEA Paris-Saclay center), the Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot (SHFJ) located in Orsay, and NeuroSpin, a brain research center that operates large imaging instruments located in Saclay, MIRCen contributes to the National Infrastructure for in vivo imaging in humans: France Life Imaging (FLI), coordinated by the CEA. FLI coordinates and standardizes French technological research in preclinical and clinical imaging by offering the most highly developed equipment to the scientific community.